She introduces herself as the Founder Roo.
Meet Vandana Suri, a mum, an entrepreneur, a visionary who ensured she carves a path for herself, her child and lot more women.
She runs a fleet of taxis. Taxshe is an enterprise that is an interesting intiative where one finds women drivers employed to ferry school children.
Talking about her journey, the obstacles, her joy moments, Vandana shares with Mums and Stories, “ I grew up in a very conservative middle class family in Mumbai. It was so conservative for girls that I wasn’t even allowed to talk to boys when i was in my teens! But invariably, I had a whole group of 14 boys and 3 girls and we still keep in touch. I think I loved to bend the rules, rules which I couldn’t understand, found my own world and still kept to the family values I was brought up in. I always remember being a fighter. From early childhood days, I remember beating up little boys who threatened my elder brother, even though he was just a year older.
I never really belonged to the girlie group in spite of studying in a girls convent, I just couldn’t figure myself looking pretty and dolling up like all girls my age, was quite a nerd studying all the time. I think I was highly influenced by the serial Rajni – where this lady took up battles for making society a better place. All this I guess left a mark on my mind.
Today when I look back at all the rebellion, and the way my parents wanted me to grow up like a nice little coy girl, today the rebellion has actually channelized itself into a leadership. I would say no parent should bottle up this rebellion and in fact help the child give this a positive shape.”
Talking about what made her start her initiative, Vandana shares, “ I was sick and tired feeling unsafe as a woman. I was sick and tired waiting for male company if I needed to travel anywhere, especially post evening. Then there was a cab rape incident in Delhi, which seriously woke me up. This lady left a headline next day ” If I had a woman driving me, this wouldn’t have happened” I didn’t know the lady, but hats off to her, she inspired a huge change in me.
A change to take action and change myself first. That’s how i formed TAXSHE – women driving women and kids.”
Being a single parents she shares, “It’s always a juggle. But being a single mom teaches you to be independent, no one to fall back on, no one to fulfill your dreams. No one to consult. You have to make your own decisions and be responsible for it, good bad ugly.
I think being a single mom is a whole lot of strength, and maybe what I have accomplished today, might not have been possible if I did not have this strength in me. So, in a way, thanks to my ex-husband for walking out on us, maybe there was something bigger destined behind the same.
(Vandana Suri , Founder -Taxshe with her son)
I think the biggest challenge for an entrepreneur is lack of resources, financial, people resources, guidance. Everyone only hears the success stories, but no one knows the hard work behind it. You only see the crop, you don’t see the struggle of the seed below the ground, growing its shoot and finding its way to the surface level.
Especially being a single mom gives you the jitters when you see the zeroes in life, and you see quite a few of them! But what the heck, now the zeroes don’t bother me at all, since I have moved from the past.
Currently we are fully functional in Bangalore, and have a very small presence through our partners Sakha Cabs in Delhi. We should hopefully scale operations very soon in Delhi. Our clientele is predominantly children, whole lot of them we pick and drop to school. It’s such a pleasure to drive kids, total stress busters and absolutely entertainment. And we get paid for actually enjoying our day, what better could it get!
We actually have based our work on need, where we are needed most, because of small numbers of women drivers. So in the mornings, the kids need us the most, so we cater to schools and tuitions etc during the day, evenings we pick up corporate drives, drop women to their homes, and late night we pick up retail airport drives.
We recently have seen a surge of feeding moms as clientele, as they feel free to feed their babies with women driving them, that makes us feel so wanted!”
Vandana shares on how one can enroll in her company, “You just need to be a woman to become a driver in my Company. If you don’t know how to drive, i will teach you, free of cost. But come with the dreams of being the change we all want to see. Yes we have trained a lot of under priveledged women to get a safe and a handsome career, but the purpose of TAXSHE is to empower women to keep children and women safe.
So it doesnt matter which financial segment you may belong to, all you need to do is visualise the change you are going to bring in. Just call me at 8884950088/8884960088 if you want to enroll, dont hesitate, just pick the phone and see if you belong.”
She does hope the next generation doesn’t get scared to venture out alone. “If we are so many women on the roads driving more women, then obviously the rate of rapes and sexual abuse will come down drastically. Numbers matter.
Our drivers are not called drivers, they are called Roos (stemming from kangaroo, a very caring yet strong animal, keeping the kids safe in her pouch). I don’t believe that we are drivers at all, we are simply moms, and we are channelising this motherhood to make life safe for all of us.”
On general parenting from mums to daughters, she says, “ I really don’t think we teach our girls financial/emotional independence. Thankfully my mom did, so at a time when so many marriage proposals were coming in at a very early age, my mom stood against the family like a rock and insisted that I complete my education, earn a good living and only then get married. I guess she is the change maker in my highly patriarchal family.
My advice to women who are undergoing crisis is to just shut up, sit quiet and search the path.
Let me tell you something, 13+ years ago, my husband left me with literally 100Rs and a one year old child. If I had just kept feeling sorry for myself or feeling weak, I would never have moved ahead. When there is a crisis, think back and figure out what is the biggest priority to handle right now?
Your emotional crisis or financial?
if you dont have food to eat, then emotions must take a back seat for now, deal with financials first. Restart small if required, but restart.
Revisit your emotions later. What can bring in stability first, stick by that. Give it a priority number and a timeline.”
Talking on her son who is almost 15 years now, she says, “ I once asked him if he was embarrassed that his mom was a driver, he in fact said that he believed I was making a multimillion dollar industry out of this and he was so super proud! There was a time he was studying about American revolution, and they had given him an exercise to find out what were the current revolutions happening in India, he happily spoke up that he had a revolution at home called TAXSHE! I couldn’t have beamed more in pride!!
My mom is the quiet player, unlike the really loud ME! She stands like a quiet rock behind, unshaken. She is my backbone, raising my child way out better that I possibly could have. Infact, in my home, she is the mom, and I am the dad!!
This independent thinking and decision making all are her gift to me, which cannot be gifted by any education, any degrees.”